Jazz legend Arturo Sandoval and defying Cuba’s dictatorship
Arturo Sandoval Defied Castro To Become A Jazz Legend
Growing up in Cuba, Arturo Sandoval fell in love with jazz.
But he had two problems:
1. He was dirt poor and couldn't afford music lessons.
2. The communist regime wouldn't let Cubans listen to jazz, let alone perform it. Fidel Castro's henchmen considered jazz "the music of the enemy."
So Sandoval improvised, inventing his own genre of music that pleased the authorities and wowed audiences worldwide.
It also bought him time until he escaped Cuba and got the chance to perform the music he loves.
Since leaving Cuba, Sandoval has won eight Grammys (another was awarded while he was living in Cuba), an Emmy and six Billboard Music Awards.
High NoteThe White House has announced that later this year Sandoval will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, his adopted home country's highest civilian honor.
Born outside Havana in 1949, Sandoval grew up with his family in a dirt-floor house.
"We were literally dirt poor," he once told a reporter. "But it was good. It makes me appreciate everything in my life."
Life got harder in 1959 when Fidel Castro seized power and turned Cuba communist.
"My father was a mechanic and they confiscated his garage," Sandoval, 63, told IBD. "And then, like everybody else, he started working for the government for a miserable little salary. I had to leave school when I was in fifth grade to work because we were hungry at home. That was horrible."
Music was Sandoval's salvation. At age 13 he discovered the trumpet. He was so talented, he was invited to study classical trumpet at the Cuban National School of Arts and soon earned a spot on the Cuban National All-Star band.
At 22 he started three years of obligatory Cuban army service: "cleaning cannons and marching."
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